It has been a tumultuous season for the women’s basketball team. At one point, the ‘Cats dropped 12 in a row, nine of those games in NESCAC play. Overall, the team finished 8-16 and 1-9 in conference play. On February 7th, the Bobcats looked to end their losing streak against Williams, one of the best teams in the NESCAC, but were unable to losing 84-45. A day later, the team traveled to 10-11 Hamilton and came out without a win. Heading into the last two games of the season, the team put behind their woes looking to defeat their two biggest rivals to salvage the season.
With 21st-ranked Bowdoin coming to town, the ‘Cats looked to finish off the season on a high note heading into February break. The 20-3 Polar Bears posed no easy task however, but the Bobcats were ready to put up a fight in front of a packed house.
For the first half, it was a back and forth battle between the two foes. The ‘Cats were aggressive from the opening tip, diving for loose balls and making the necessary hustle play. Every time Bowdoin seemed like they were pulling out of reach, Bates came up with a big shot to turn the momentum in their favor. Sophomore Chelsea Nason hit a key three in the half to keep things close while senior Meredith Kelly was 5-6 from the floor with 13 points in the first half.
In the second half, the tide started to turn in favor of the Polar Bears. Down the stretch, Bowdoin began hitting key threes and repeatedly got the second chance point on offensive rebounds and turnovers. Though the ‘Cats did mount a comeback in the last three minutes, which forced a timeout from the Bowdoin bench, time eventually ran out and Bowdoin was victorious 77-65.
Meredith Kelly led in scoring for the Bobcats with 20 points. Freshman standout Allie Coppola continued her impressive season recording 19 points on 6-12 from the field and a perfect 7-7 from the charity stripe along with eight rebounds. Even with the effort from Coppola on the glass, Bates was still outrebounded 43-26.
“Out rebounding our opponents needs to be one our strengths because we are a team that runs the floor well,” noted Coppola. “But you need to get the ball in order to fast break.”
The next day, the Bobcats took on the 7-17 Colby Mules who shared the bottom of the NESCAC standings with the Bobcats. Bates didn’t seem like an 8-16 team however, for they eventually pulled away before halftime and never looked back eventually winning 67-40.
At the beginning of the first half, Bates held a 9-8 advantage before outscoring the Mules 21-7 before the halftime break. The 21-7 run was orchestrated by multiple Bobcats; freshman Bernadette Connors led the charge hitting her first of two threes to start the onslaught. Kelly and junior Julia Rafferty followed suit with three-pointers of their own and Bates was well in control.
Colby did cut the Bates lead down to 13 in the second half, but that was as close as they would get. Kelly scored 15 of her 24 points in the second half with Coppola recording 10 points and 11 rebounds, her seventh double double on the year.
Even though it was a disappointing season for the Bobcats, Coppola believes the team will be back stronger next year, “I know a strength will be our effort and attitude,” explained Coppola. “We will compete with each other in every practice the way we compete against other teams in games,” she added.
Head coach Jim Murphy echoed Coppola’s statement, explaining, “next year depends totally on the players’ improving as athletes and as players in the next eight months.”